Though the UN Security Council has extended MONU.S.CO’s peacekeeping mandate for another year, the latest resolution (UNSCR 2147) makes it clear the MONU.S.CO must begin preparing for withdrawal. That’s right, the seemingly endless Congo peacekeeping operation which began in 1999 has now been ordered to formulate an exit strategy. The UN peacekeeping office made it clear that the withdrawal will be very gradual. Redeployment may not begin until late 2014 or early 2015. Moreover, the Intervention Brigade (IBDE) will still be tasked with conducting offensive operations (neutralization operations) against armed groups which refuse to lay down their arms.
April 2, 2014: The Rwandan government has begun a series of services and memorial events for the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Those mass murders began in April 1994.
The Congolese government reported that the Kata Katanga (Bakata Katanga) guerrilla group is reorganizing in the Pweto-Mitwaba–Manono area of Katanga province. That region is known as the Triangle of Death. The guerrilla group wants Katanga to secede from the Congo.
April 1, 2014: The EU (European Union) confirmed that it will deploy the EUFOR RCA peacekeeping contingent to the Central African Republic (CAR). The EU agreed in January to send the peacekeeping contingent and planned on deploying the force in late February. The EU failed to meet the February deployment date. The EUFOR RCA operation will be tasked with providing security in Bangui (CAR capital). The contingent will deploy 1,000 troops.
March 29, 2014: Anti-balaka (anti-Moslem) militias in the CAR reportedly control the major roads leading to the capital, Bangui. Peacekeeping forces can move through the areas but when the peacekeepers leave the militias return. The UN estimates that it needs at least another 6,000 peacekeeping soldiers in the CAR.
March 28, 2014: The UN Security Council extended MONU.S.CO’s mandate to March 31, 2015. The peacekeeping operation is authorized 19,815 soldiers, 760 military observers, 391 armed policemen and 1,050 paramilitary policemen (police in formed police units).
March 23, 2014: The U.S. is reinforcing its special operations contingent which is aiding the Uganda-led hunt for LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) senior commander Joseph Kony. The U.S. currently deploys around 100 special operations troops which advise and support the hunt for Kony. The reinforcements include 150 U.S. Air Force special operations personnel and several CV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft.
March 22, 2014: Observers in the CAR reported that anti-balaka militia attacks on Moslem tribespeople continue in and around the capital of Bangui. Moslems have sought the protection of international peacekeeping forces in Bangui.
March 20, 2014: The Congolese Army, supported by UN units, continues to conduct operations against Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) guerrillas in North Kivu province. FDLR fighters have fled into Virunga National Park.
March 15, 2014: There is no hard figure for the number of people killed in the Congo since 1997 when the Mobutu dictatorship collapsed. A recent published estimate said four million. Another said six million. Both figures are very large, but one figure is 50 percent larger than the other. One reason for the disparity is determining what constitutes death due to armed conflict. In 2002 observers reported that several thousand internally displaced people died of exposure as they fled combat near the town of Bunia (Ituri region, eastern Congo). They were not shot and killed, but disease, weather and exhaustion killed them. These people are indeed casualties of war and if they are included the higher loss figures become more reasonable estimates.
March 14, 2014: France accused the EU of failing to support peacekeeping efforts in the CAR. The EU had initially agreed to send a battalion (800 to 1,000) additional peacekeepers to the CAR. However, the French government said that the EU had failed to commit soldiers and provide equipment. France has slightly over 2,000 troops in the CAR. Another 400 will arrive in the next month.
A judge in France sentenced a former Rwandan senior intelligence officer to 25 years in prison on the charge of genocide. The court found Pascal Simbikangwa guilty of complicity in crimes against humanity and genocide. Simbikangwa directed intelligence operations for Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. Who was an ethnic Hutu. He died in a plane crash in April 1994.
March 13, 2014: The Congolese government claimed that the Congolese Army and UN offensive against Ugandan rebels in the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) has been a major success. Congolese forces have seized the ADF’s last major base in Congo, near the village of Saasita. Some ADF guerrillas have fled into the Virunga National Park.
March 12, 2014: Congolese Army and the UN’s Intervention Brigade (IBDE) attacked a Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel contingent in North Kivu province. The UN reported that an offensive against the FDLR had begun earlier this month. One UN unit is currently operating inside Congo’s Virunga National Park. The UN force engaged an FDLR contingent on March 9 inside the park. Elements of the Malawi infantry battalion are now serving with the IBDE and are participating in the anti-FDLR offensive.
March 10, 2014: Burundi’s troubles continue to mount. On March 8 members of the opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy held a rally in the capital, Bujumbura. Police broke up the demonstration and arrest over 20 opposition political activists. The government said it will charge the activists in insurrection (treason). Observers in Burundi claimed that this is the worst political crisis since the civil war ended.
March 9, 2014: The UN claimed that anti-balaka militias have driven Moslem tribespeople out of the western half of the Central African Republic. The UN accused the militias of religious cleansing. There are between 650,000 and 700,000 internally displaced people (refugees) inside the CAR. 230,000 of the IDPs are now in the capital, Bangui.